The government has announced the successful bids for a £10 million innovation fund designed to explore ways to deliver superfast broadband to the most remote and hardest to reach places in the UK.
Eight different projects using a range of technologies have been shortlisted to progress to the feasibility stage, ahead of deployment later this year.
The government wants superfast broadband to reach 95 percent of the UK by 2017. It is now exploring ways to reach those premises in the final five percent. The eight shortlisted pilots will explore how to expand coverage in remote areas, using fixed wireless and satellite technologies, a social investment financial model and an operating model which aggregates small rural networks.
Rural affairs minister Dan Rogerson said: "It is critical that we explore how to get superfast broadband out to these hard to reach areas to allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society."
Malcolm Corbett, chief executive of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), said: "This is a very useful initiative and we are keen to help local authorities and INCA members learn from the trials.
"There is a huge amount of experience, professionalism and entrepreneurial enthusiasm in the independent sector that can play a big role in creating Britain’s future digital infrastructure."
Among the winning bids are AB Internet in Wales, which has been awarded £850,000 for its hybrid fixed line/fixed wireless superfast rural broadband network. Services will deliver end user speeds of up to 50mbps.
There is also Quickline in North Lincolnshire which has been given just over £2 million to test a range of line-of-sight, near-line-of-sight and non-line-of-site technologies, using user voucher schemes to "maximise early uptake and avoid social exclusion".